My Infertility Journey
By Amy Carter
I had it all planned out. I remember sitting with my college roommate talking about how we would graduate, find the “one”, get married, and get pregnant. Just like that. Of course it would happen just like that.
My husband and I were married in 2010 and decided that we wanted 2.5 kids (at least one boy and one girl even if it took three tries), but we wanted to enjoy being married for a couple years before we got started. So two years in I stopped taking birth control and we started trying. We were so excited! My periods were very irregular but I figured that it was because of getting off of hormonal birth control that I had been taking for years. I kept thinking that I was pregnant because I wasn’t getting my period, so I would take a pregnancy test and then an ovulation test and both would be negative. It seemed like everyone around me was getting pregnant with ease. After a year of trying, I went to see my doctor and he started me on Clomid to help stimulate ovulation. I called Clomid the “crazy drug” because it put me on a hormone induced emotional roller coaster that would cause me to be driving along singing to the radio one minute and then having a hot flash while screaming at the car in front of me the next. This was not me, and my emotions felt out of control. About this time, I got a phone call from a friend who was so excited to tell me that she got pregnant the first month they tried and that Ryan I should really start trying because it was just so easy. I cannot tell you the sting that I felt through my heart with that comment, but she didn’t know what we were going through. This was getting hard.
My doctor did bloodwork and determined that he did not think the Clomid was helping me to ovulate, so he referred me to a fertility specialist where, after many tests, I was diagnosed with a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I really wanted to get pregnant as naturally as possible, so we tried a couple more cycles of Clomid with no luck. The next step was to try intrauterine insemination (IUI) which meant I would take several weeks of medication to stimulate my ovaries to produce follicles and then a trigger shot to cause the eggs to release right before the insemination. Apparently my ovaries are overachievers when they are being watched, so they would overstimulate and produce too many follicles. This meant that if we were to do the procedure there was a chance of me becoming an octamom, and we were in agreement with the doctor that the best option was to cancel the cycle. Every time I took the medication to get ready for a procedure, my body needed the next month to reset, so each try takes two months even if the procedure is cancelled. The waiting in this process was long and painful. After about a year of failed attempts and two failed procedures, the doctor finally convinced us that our only real chance of getting pregnant was through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
We scheduled the egg retrieval for July of 2014 and started getting ready for the procedure. I couldn’t believe the amount of hormones and drugs involved in getting my body to produce as many follicles as possible so they could be retrieved in hopes of creating embryos for transfer. By the time the day of the procedure arrived, my entire abdomen was black and blue from all of the shots I had to give myself. The retrieval went well and we were blessed to have a large amount of good quality eggs retrieved! Finally some good news! Then I started getting sick. I couldn’t get out of bed and I couldn’t breathe. It turned out that I had ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome and my body was filling with too much fluid, and it was putting pressure on my lungs. I just couldn’t seem to catch a break! I recovered with the help of blood thinner shots and we were able to schedule my first frozen embryo transfer for September.
We were so excited! This was it! After weeks of monster progesterone shots in my hip and several ultrasounds to prepare, we were finally here and ready to do this. The doctor transferred two excellent quality frozen embryos, and then we waited. And waited. This two week wait seemed to take even longer that all the waits before it. The call from the doctor that the transfer was unsuccessful hit me harder than I expected it to. We had just lost two embryos! Now we had to wait another two long months before we could try again.
Our next transfer was scheduled for the Monday before Thanksgiving. The doctor performed a procedure leading up to the transfer called uterine raking (which was exactly as lovely as it sounds) that was meant to better prepare my body for the embryos to “stick”. We did all of the shots and pills to prepare only to find out right before the procedure that I had developed a blood clot in my uterus and the cycle had to be cancelled. Now I would have to wait until February to try again. Here I was all hopped up on hormones and devastated, and I had to try to smile through Thanksgiving like everything was fine. I was not fine. I was not even close to fine. The next few weeks were the darkest time I have ever faced in my life. I felt completely hopeless and alone. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to get up off the floor and make it to a couple support group meetings and make it through the next few months.
Again amped up on hormones, I made it to my FET in February and they transferred two more frozen embryos. Again the two week wait. I remember the anxiety that was crushing my chest when I saw the call come in from the doctor. I was so nervous that I couldn’t listen to the message by myself, so I called my husband and we listened to it together on speaker. It was the best.news.ever. We were finally pregnant! It was as if a veil of darkness had been lifted, and I was able to see again enough to lift my head to thank God for this miracle. I was so nervous about this tiny little being growing in my belly, but I finally had hope. My pregnancy was successful, and I delivered my precious girl in October finally making me the mom I had dreamed of being. Fast forward two years and I underwent another frozen embryo transfer and became pregnant with my boy-girl twins who were born in June.
My journey to motherhood was long and filled with more pain than I ever expected, but looking back I can tell you it was worth every hormone shot, every pill, and every tear. While I would never wish that anyone would have to walk where I have been, I have come to appreciate my journey because I have been able to share it with others who are walking similar paths. If you are struggling to get pregnant, please know that you are not alone. There is hope. I see you, sweet friend, and I am praying for you.